Pentagon to test ground-launched cruise missile

The United States aims to test a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of about 1,000 km (620 miles) in August, a Pentagon official said on Wednesday.

According to several media reports, the Pentagon plans this summer to test a ground-launched cruise missile of the type that has been banned for three decades by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

“We’re going to test a ground-launched cruise missile in August,” a senior defense official, who declined to be named, was quoted by Reuters as saying on March 13.

Pentagon officials spoke to a small group of reporters on the condition that they would not be identified.

The INF treaty, negotiated by then-President Ronald Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and ratified by the U.S. Senate, eliminated the medium-range missile arsenals of the world’s two biggest nuclear powers and reduced their ability to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.

The INF treaty required the parties to destroy ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 km (310 to 3,420 miles).

The United States on February 2 launched the six-month process of leaving the INF Treaty after Washington and NATO repeatedly accused Moscow of violating the accord by developing the 9M729 cruise missile, also known as the SSC-8.

Russia, which denies the accusation, said it was also withdrawing from the INF Treaty, which banned both countries from developing, producing, and deploying ground-launched cruise or ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

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